Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holly Jolly Blog Hop



It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop
 
 
 
I love collecting holiday Christmas ornaments. We like to travel, and I've often collected a mug from a particular place...but you know how that can go. Too many mugs, not enough space, and you break your favorites. When we were in Maine several years ago, I saw a miniature ship in a bottle and had to have it for the tree the next year.


Since then, I've collected ornaments from several states and Canada. From our fabulous Holiday Folk Faire in Milwaukee, I've collected other ornaments from around the world, as well as the UNICEF one--when I can get there.




I have special ones that were handmade.


One leather babushka doll from Sitka, Alaska:



Very cool and expensive clay one from Acoma, Sky City--the oldest continually inhabited city in North America:


The latest ones are from my trip last summer to Canada.

Rug making from the Acadians at Nova Scotia:

 
 

The flags of Newfoundland and Labrador on shells. Okay, it's corny, but I love the Labrador (The Big Land) flag: white for snow, green for land, blue for water. The spruce twig for the three first nations: Inuit, Innu, and European settlers.


 

What are your special ornaments?
 
 
Lisa Lickel is an award-winning Wisconsin author of cozy mystery, romance, and new children's historical stories. She is also the editor of Creative Wisconsin magazine for Wisconsin Writers Association, a freelance editor and book reviewer. Her latest project, First Children of Farmington, a series of six ethnically-based pioneer children's life events, are in publication progress. The first two books, The Potwatomi Boy and The German Girl are now available in electronic and print format.

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Edgar-winning mystery writer Sally Wright

I'm so happy to have Sally Wright visiting again. Please welcome her as she talks about her new book, Breeding Ground.



Kindle $2.99

About the book:

BREEDING GROUND

A Jo Grant Horse Country Mystery
Lexington, Kentucky, 1962:
Another painful death in Jo Grant’s family . . another injured relative she suddenly has to care for while running the family broodmare business she wants to leave behind . . another casualty from WWII turning-up in need at her door – right when she and a WWII OSS vet are trying to stop the killer of a friend caught in the conflicts of another family horse business in the inbred world of Lexington Thoroughbreds, where the family ties from grooms to estate owners have tangled together for a hundred years.

 

What do I love about this book?
I love the horses, and most of the folks in Breeding Ground who take care of them on working farms around Lexington.
When I visited there on a book tour years ago, I met two Woodford County women who opened their homes as B&Bs. I stayed in their classic 19th century brick farmhouses and grilled them about the history of the houses, and local tales as well.
They and their husbands and friends became friends, and I kept going back - till my husband and I wished we could move there.
Friends from Ohio too - who’d had a broodmare farm next to us (caring for mares that belonged to other people, birthing and training their babies) - had moved to Versailles (in Woodford County just west of Lexington) to start another broodmare business, and they took me to meet owners and trainers – and then I met Secretariat at Claiborne, and became obsessed. (I had a horse for years, which was part of the Lexington appeal, and I’d still be riding now if I hadn’t gotten hurt.)
But it wasn’t till I did research there for the Ben Reese mystery, Watches Of The Night, that I knew I had to write a series set in that world of hills and horse farms and well-remembered history.
I’d been reading about the French Resistance too, and the British (SOE) and US (OSS) espionage services that helped them in WWII. I got so caught up in the stories of the agents and the danger and the death, I wanted to work with that too.
I saw the horse people and the OSS veterans as part of an on-going horse country community in which most would be workers in three family businesses – a small hands-on broodmare farm, a ma-and-pa horse van manufacturer, and a family firm making equine pharmaceuticals.
I grew up in a small family business. For my father was an orphan, raised in a Christian orphanage, who (because a teacher helped him get a college scholarship in 1929) was able to become a chemist, who dreamed for years about inventing a product and starting his own business – and did, with my Mom, when I was four.
It’s been a pivotal part of my life, and I wanted to examine the conflicts that come when whatever-family-members-are-in-charge have to choose between what they think is good for the business (all the employees and customers included) and their children’s (or siblings’) feelings. Christian decision makers can find the choices especially difficult, and with eighty percent of American businesses still family owned, I thought I ought to talk about it.
I also decided to write about a caregiver who’s reached her emotional limits – or at least feels as though she has. Jo Grant put aside her work as an architect to care for a mother with terminal brain cancer, then has to cope with her brother’s sudden death, plus two more situations that force her to abandon everything she wants – again - and care for them too.
God’s place in all that – allowing the suffering, and helping you through it – gets considered (subtly, I hope, and indirectly) in Breeding Ground as the fundamental struggle we face living on this earth. God’s gotten me through two years of pancreatic cancer, and I’ve wanted to talk about something of what I’ve experienced – the peace and joy and sense of God’s care in spite of outward appearances.


Tell us something you learned doing the research, and any research tip you’d like to share.
            After I’d read a biography of Mack (MacKenzie) Miller, interviewing him meant a lot to me. He’s a Hall Of Fame trainer, and a self-effacing Christian gentleman, who trained for years for Paul Mellon, and he and his wife couldn’t have been kinder. He’s a well-documented example of how, even though racing can bring out the worst and the ugliest, honesty and family commitment and real concern for the horses still exists and succeeds (or did, when he was training).
It was my research on the French Resistance, and the US Office of Strategic Services that nearly drove me to distraction.
I read book after book on the French Resistance – all over France, all through the Nazi occupation – and became totally overwhelmed. I couldn’t make sense of it without going to France. But my mother (who was ninety-nine, and lived next door, and was very sadly demented, with care-givers round the clock) was my responsibility, and I couldn’t stay long. I also had no one in France to help me the way I’d had in Scotland when I wrote the Ben Reese mysteries.
            So God led me to the book I needed, then to a tiny B&B in an old mill in the Loire Valley where He gave me a gift I’ve been given before – the kind that saves books.
Sitting beside black-and-white ducks, green glass river sliding by, the mill owner spoke of the Resistance in the Lorraine with real knowledge and passion. He’d filled the whole mill with WWII books, and though we talked hour after hour, it was his description of a real event in the village beside the mill – and the local reaction in 2010 – that I put into Breeding Ground (which takes place in ‘62) that gave me the perspective for the OSS backstory that helped drive three characters to do what they needed to do.
Which leads me, finally, to a research tip. Studying the French Resistance across France was too broad an approach. A History professor at Hillsdale College handing me a paperback on the French Resistance in the Lorraine region alone narrowed my focus to the Loire Valley - and made the research doable.
So. When you get bogged down in research that seems overwhelming, narrow the search till it’s manageable.
Just as importantly: If your setting’s a real place (and you can get there) take a ridiculous number of photographs; Interview as many people as you can think of who relate to the book, and record every conversation; Make yourself stop when research becomes an excuse for not writing the book.

How do you hope readers will talk about the book after they’ve read it?
            I hope readers will be drawn to the horses. They’re not pets. No, but they can be twelve-hundred-pound partners. They can read your mind and your body. And we need to train and treat them well. As Jo Grant says in the preface, “. . . the horses we’ve got here, I’ve got to tell about them. The ones that run our lives, and get planned and pampered and brutalized by us too, for the best and the strangest and the worst of reasons.”
I hope readers will be interested in the folks who plan and pamper and care for them – the grooms, white and black, the aristocratic owners, the everyday folks doing their best to make horse vans, and de-wormers, and teach a foal manners.
I want readers to feel as though they understand more about family businesses from the inside out, and that knowing a little about the stresses involved ends-up being useful.
            I’d also like readers to learn enough about the OSS and the French Resistance in Breeding Ground that they want to read more. There’re wonderful books about both that have a whole lot to teach.
            I also hope that by the end of Breeding Ground, readers – like Jo Grant, the narrator - see the mercy of God at work in her life, and in others’ as well, and recognize the good that can come out of suffering.
            It’s enemy occupied territory here (as C.S. Lewis said). And character comes with living through difficulties; for as strength and perseverance develop, they can lead to joy and hope - the kind that’s a gift from God. 
 
About the author:

 
Sally Wright is the author of six Ben Reese mysteries: Publish And Perish, Pride And Predator, Pursuit And Persuasion (a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award Finalist in 2001), Out Of The Ruins, Watches Of The Night (published in June 2008) and Code Of Silence, a prequel to the series (published in December 2008).

Wright was born obsessed with books, and started pecking-out florid adventure stories with obvious endings by the time she turned seven. She wrote and performed music in high school and college, earned a degree in oral interpretation of literature at Northwestern University, and then completed graduate work at the University of Washington. She published many biographical articles, including pieces on Malcolm Muggeridge and Nikolai Tolstoy, Leo's grandnephew, before she wrote her Ben Reese books.

Reviewers repeatedly compare Wright's work to that of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. Wright herself says that her literary influences range from all of those to Tolstoy and Jane Austen, from P.D. James to Dick Francis.

Sally Wright moved with her husband many years ago from Cape Cod to the country near Bowling Green, Ohio, but they think they'd like to someday live outside Lexington, Kentucky. Their daughter is an opera singer (a la Out of the Ruins), and their son works for a industrial manufacturing company. The Wrights have a young boxer dog, a young mare (who’s a lot less reliable than the old one-eyed gelding), and too many gardens to take care of the way Sally would like. She loves to cook, and wants to play with painting again, if she ever stops trying to learn dressage.



           

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pilgrim Stats with Tamera Lynn Kraft

It's nearly Thanksgiving Day in the US - though of course that doesn't mean we aren't thankful the other days.
Please welcome Tamera Lynn Kraft.
 


In 1620, the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. The first thing they did was to fall on their knees and thank God for keeping them safe through the journey. But their troubles weren't over. That winter over half of the pilgrims died, most from starvation, cold, and disease.

Here are the statistics:

December - six people died.

January - eight people died.

February - 17 people died.

March - 13 people died.

Four entire families died, and there was only one family that didn't lose at least one member.

Of 18 married women, 13 died. Only three of 13 children perished. This seems to indicate that mothers were probably giving their share of food to the children.

The winter was, by local standards, a fairly mild one. The Plymouth settlers were simply not used to living on an awful diet and being exposed to the elements. Had it been a really severe winter, it's likely that all of them would have been wiped out.

When the "Mayflower" was prepared to return to England in April. 1621, its captain offered to take any survivors with him at no charge. None of the remaining pilgrims took him up on his offer.

After harvesting their crops in early Autumn, the who were still alive invited the Indians for a feast to celebrate the goodness of God.

That's how Thanksgiving got started. Sometimes I think that we Americans have become a spoiled people. We expect things to always go our way and when they don't, we don't remember to thank God for the many blessings He has given us. We forget to thank Him.

Here's some things I'm thankful for this year:

My wonderful husband of 35 years.

My two grown children who serve the Lord.

Two of the cutest grandchildren in the world.

A house to live in.

Food to eat - especially the Thanksgiving feast I'll stuff myself with.

Time saving gadgets. Remember the Pilgrims didn't even have matches to light their fires.

The publication of two of my books, Soldier'sHeart and A Christmas Promise.

Revival Fire 4 Kids, the ministry God has allowed me to lead.

My nation. United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth.

Freedom to worship. Many Christians from other countries endanger their lives by following God.

My Salvation. No matter what else I lose, Jesus Christ died for my sins so I could have a relationship with Him. Nothing else compares to that.

So what are you thankful for?

A Christmas Promise

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Available at these online stores:




About the Author:

TAMERA LYNN KRAFT has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.
Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

You can contact Tamera online at these sites:

And come visit me, Lisa Lickel, on Word Sharpeners today at this link.
I'll give away a copy of my new book, Brave New Century, during this special promotion.

 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Faith challenge book review: Cafeteria Covenant by Dee Emeigh

Cafeteria Covenant - the voice, the choice, and the challenge

Cafeteria Covenant - the voice, the choice, and thechallenge


c. July 2012

 From the publisher:
 
Cafeteria Covenant is a come-back story in many ways. The powerful little book may well be the antidote for those who have been impacted by abuse, hypocrisy and doctrinal error, as well as those suffering through difficult times in other ways.

Yet, the book is also important for those in church leadership who dare to hope for reform. Well-written, concise and compelling, Cafeteria Covenant: the voice, the choice, and the challenge encourages readers to hear God’s voice for themselves. It could well be used for small group study and discussion, providing documentation to more than forty resources.

Dee Marvin Emeigh relates one authentic and compelling story after another of her experiences over forty years. But far from leaving the reader impounded in bitter despair, Emeigh delivers a message of faith, hope, and love, along with insights into the character and nature of God. Readers will walk through calamity to find love, through devastation to find encouragement to rebuild. A talented singer-songwriter, Emeigh tells the stories behind many of the songs on her 2011 CD project, Well Seasoned.
 
My review:
Cafeteria Covenant comes from the thought “I will gladly feast on all he has given his life to give me…” This little book is not an easy or sweet read, it’s a tale of why the author ended up flitting from congregation to congregation, “A participating visitor at many area churches.” This is the story of more than a series of unfortunate events; it’s a challenge for readers to become a mission of encouragement in today’s church life.

Was it better for us when there were few choices of what church to attend? I don’t know. I’ve only changed congregations one time in my married life of thirty years, but once I read what the author had been through in her worship and relationship experiences, I was able to “hear” what some of my other friends had known as well. Was it simply unfortunate choices, or was it an expression of today’s fallen world? Some of each.

An opening message from the book during a high school English class lesson: don’t go along with things just to be accepted – assert yourself” has a great analogy in Chapter 9: “Before we look with disdain and horror on the custom of another culture (foot-binding in China), albeit one from the past, let us take a closer look at what kept this tradition alive for so long. The women were crippled in order to provide their husbands with peace of mind that they were chaste and unable to compete with them as providers. Another word for this is helpless.”

The author candidly shares her experience, her journey toward richness in a life that follows the truths of Christ; of fulfilling the ministry to which you’ve been called no matter other voices that try to intrude; of being the light and appreciating the sacrifice to allow us to come to the feast.

Great for those who have experienced hard places in life in general, as well as in their faith life.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: Soldier's Heart by Tamera Lynn Kraft


Soldier’s Heart

Tamera Lynn Kraft

Historical novella, American Civil War
See more information here

ebook - .99
Kindle
Nook
 

From the publisher:

After returning home from the Civil War, will his soldier’s heart come between them?
Noah Andrews, a soldier with the Ohio Seventh Regiment can’t wait to get home now that his three year enlistment is coming to an end. He plans to start a new life with his young wife. Molly was only sixteen when she married her hero husband. She prayed every day for him to return home safe and take over the burden of running a farm.

But they can’t keep the war from following Noah home. Can they build a life together when his soldier’s heart comes between them?


My review:

In July 1864 Noah Andrews is on his way home to Ohio after a three-year stint in the army of the North. A young man who’d married his sweetheart before leaving for war, he’d chosen not to reenlist. The last dreadful battle in the mountains of Georgia had been a nightmare he’d vowed to put behind him.

Trying to live down the hero’s welcome, Noah and Molly go to their farm, which she’d kept up during his absence. It was her home, too, a comfortable place where Noah had grown up. But something terrifying came home with Noah after the war. They called it soldier’s heart, and Noah’s shame at being unable to be the hero everyone considered him might be their undoing.

Phrases like, “they all tried to leave the train in one clump, as if…determined never to march in file again…” puts a face on often nameless facts and figures from this horrifying time in our history. In keeping his journal, Noah bled words onto the page…great writing!

Kraft’s careful attention to detail of events during the period, real-time additions of fact, add depth to this beautiful fictional account of a young soldier who makes it home, back to his bride and a new life, but has the fiercest battle yet to face. Recommended for those who love history of the creative non-fiction type.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holly Jolly Blog Hop

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop


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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Introducing Buffy Andrews: Author, Journalist, Social Media Maven


Meet Buffy Andrews!
 
She's an author, blogger, journalist and social media maven.

By day, she’s a journalist, leading an award-winning staff at the York Daily Record/Sunday News (York, Pennsylvania, USA), where she is Assistant Managing Editor of Features and Niche Publications and social media coordinator.

By night, she’s an author, writing women’s fiction, young adult and middle grade.

In addition to her writing blog, Buffy’s Write Zone, she maintains a social media blog, Buffy's World.  She is also a newspaper and magazine columnist and writes middle-grade, young adult and women's fiction. Check out her author page.

She lives in south central Pennsylvania with her husband, Tom; two sons, Zach and Micah; and wheaten cairn terrier Kakita.


Her Books:



 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Upcoming titles:

The Yearbook Series: Sue and Tom (coming soon)

The Lion Awakens YA (2014)

Ella’s Rain YA/crossover (2014)

Freaky Frank MG (2014)

 

Five quick questions with Buffy

Q. What do you do when you need to think or are stuck in your writing?

A. I run. For some reason it frees my mind and I often find that it provides the clarity and direction I need.  

Q. Are you one of those people who stop writing while you know what’s coming next?

A. Absolutely. Just like Hemingway. Does it always work out? No. But it’s what I aim for.

Q. First person or third?

A. It depends. I write in both. And sometimes, as in The Yearbook Series, I write alternating POVs.

Q. Coffee or tea?

A. Coffee -- a lots of it!

Q. What are you most proud of?
A. My sons and the fine young men they have become.
 
 
Connect with Buffy
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Book review: Treasures of Darkness by Trish Jenkins


Treasures of Darkness: A Prison Journey
Trish Jenkins

Publisher: Trish Jenkins (Seasonz Pty. Ltd. Trading as Trish Jenkins)
www.speakertrishjenkins.com


 
ISBN: 978-0-646-56039-7

 
 My Review:

Australian author Trish Jenkins shares her love for the Lord in an entirely accidental prison ministry. I have often wondered whether rehabilitation of persons actually takes place through a prison sentence. Trish’s heartfelt story confirmed much of my opinions.
 

Caught up in an investment trade operation that went wrong, Trish, who’d been a successful real estate investor, was caught using funs improperly when her partner couldn’t make his payments. It was later determined this partner had been a fraud, and Trish was charged with breaching the (Australian) Corporations Act. Eventually a domino effect and oddly (or Godly?) financial circumstances made it impossible for her to rectify the issue. An eight-month prison sentence was the result.
 

In the book about her experience, Trish, a Christian, tells the story of her incarceration through letters written and received, her journal entries, and observations after the fact. It’s a real prison journey dealing with other inmates in various settings as well as personnel in the system. I had to go back and read the beginning again after I finished the book, and really commiserated with her: “Each day felt like a week; each week, a month.”
 

Trish never denied her guilt. Being ignorant or na├»ve was not an excuse for what she’d done, as she learned many stories from other inmates who’d committed crimes that seem rather harmless. Hers was not harmless, and she accepted that. Using her faith to keep herself together, as well as reach out to others, both inmates and staff, became her lifeline. She learned to understand what it was like to live without the privileges she’d become used to “outside.” The emotional and spiritual impact of learning how to “be” after her sentence was wrenching.
 

Who gains the most from imprisonment? Those who are truly repentant before they go in, and never, ever want to return.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eric Price: Unveiling the Wizard's Shroud Giveaway

 
Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud

By Eric Price
MuseItUp Publishing
November, 2013


About the Book:
As the only son to King Kendrick, Owen despises the idea of being king one day. Magician may be the only career he’d like less. He has dreaded the days leading up to his fifteenth birthday, when his father will certainly declare Owen heir to the throne. But at the birthday celebration, his father falls ill. The only person in the kingdom that may be able to save him is a magician–the very same magician Owen holds responsible for the death of his mother.

Owen and his companions will have to travel the continent of Wittatun in search of the cure for King Kendrick. On the journey, they will battle strange beasts and harsh climates, befriend extraordinary magicians, and meet a dragon before returning to Innes Castle–where much has happened in the days since he departed.

 
The Giveaway:
Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud comes out November 22. It’s available to pre-order now on the Muse It Up Publishing website. If you pre-order it, save your confirmation number and enter it into the rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a T-shirt featuring the beautiful cover art by CK Volnek. I’d even scribble my name across the shirt, if you so desire.
Available in all sizes. For US mailing addresses only, sorry. Non-US readers, if you pre-order, keep your confirmation number as well. I have more giveaways planned for after the release.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
I asked Eric what he loved about this book:
What I love about Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud is the surprises. With my publisher, authors go through at least six rounds of edits. Three with the content editor to make sure the plot elements stay consistent and the narrative is written in an active voice, not passive. Two rounds with a line editor to fix grammar mistakes and to weed out overused words. And one round with a format editor to make sure it transfers from a word processor file to the eBook format without any errors. Each time I read through the story, I discovered elements I forgot I’d included, from witty comments by the characters to subtle bits of symbolism. I once read, “If you don’t surprise yourself, you won’t surprise your readers.” I hope my readers will find a lot of surprises.

 

Read an Excerpt:

 
Chapter One

The Festival

             The late afternoon sun glared in the young warrior's eyes. Squinting, he could only see his opponent’s outline. His ever tightening leg muscles cried for a reprieve with each step, yet he continued to circle, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. After a long day of sword dueling with little downtime between rounds, Owen's whole body screamed for a rest.But he wanted nothing more in the world, at this precise moment, than to win the championship bout.
His opponent must also be tired. They had each fought four previous matches, and every contestant entered in the tournament presented a worthy challenge. Edward, Shield of the King—the commander of the King's Sentry, the strongest army in all of Wittatun—received continual praise for his skill with a blade. Owen, having already defeated two Sentrymen earlier in the day, hoped to beat one more. But to overcome the King’s Shield would require more skill than besting a Sentryman of lesser rank.
The fighters continued to circle one another. Sunlight gleamed off Edward's brilliant metal chest plate and helm. Now facing the westering sun, the Shield of the King squinted. The younger fighter saw his opportunity and sprung. He feigned a slash toward the commander's shield hand. When Edward raised his shield and braced for impact, Owen redoubled his assault.
He spun and sliced his blade at his opponent's neck. The loud clang of steel on steel resonated throughout the courtyard as Edward raised his sword to parry. The vibration transmitted up Owen’s arm, but he finished his compound attack by kicking the Sentryman in the chest plate. The judge blew a whistle to signify the landing of the first blow in the best-of-three veney.
The experienced warrior wasted no time mounting his counterattack by gaining the measure and reestablishing just distance. He made several quick jabs at Owen's head and chest, which the defender parried away with ease and countered with a testing jab. Edward sidestepped, moved back in line, and raised his sword to the en garde position. The younger fighter noticed Edward’s shield drop ever so slightly. The tiny gap in defense may provide the opening needed to finish him.
Owen lunged. He recognized the move as a mistake, but his forward motion could not be stopped. The tip of Edward’s sword slid between the hinge where the chest plate met the shoulder guard and dug into muscle. Sharp pain shot through his left shoulder, and he barely heard the judge blow the whistle through the anguish. Edward had lowered his shield as an invitation for a strike. When the younger fighter took the offering, the elder's stop-thrust found the only weak point of the armor.
Owen, large for his age, still stood six inches shorter than the Shield, whose muscular forearms resembled Owen’s thighs. The chainmail armor on his forearm, form fitting on most soldiers, clung tight to Edward. His muscles rippled as he pushed the sword tip a little deeper into the meat. A stream of blood trickled down the blade and dripped to the ground.
Edward sneered. Red drops splattered the trampled grass. “I wish we fought to first-blood. I hope the king doesn't put me to death for injuring his son.”

  
About the Author:
Eric grew up in central Illinois. He now lives in northwest Iowa with his wife and two sons. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. His first short story, “Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast,” a spooky children’s tale about a haunted bed and breakfast, came out later the same year. He has published more than 30 nonfiction articles/columns, four short stories, and a poem. Three of his short stories have won honorable mention in the CrossTIME Annual Science Fiction contest. This is his first novel.